Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Charlie’s Restaurant & Bar

Restaurant: Charlie’s Restaurant & Bar

Cuisine: Pizza/Mediterranean/Italian
Last visited: March 9, 2010
Area: Vancouver, BC (Yaletown/Downtown)
1265 Hamilton Street
Price Range

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3.5
Service: n/a
(Media dinner)
Ambiance: 5
Overall: 3.5
(food is on generally good, but not worth it)
Additional comments:

  • Chef Brian Ritchot
  • Chef from Montreal, one from Spain
  • DJ’s/live music on weekends
  • Contemporary, sleek, posh atmosphere
  • Great for groups
  • Specializes in gourmet pizzas
  • Mediterranean/Italian options
  • Longue like atmosphere
  • One large projection screen TV
  • Open late
  • Pizzas available for take out
  • Dinner service only

**Recommendation: Short Rib Pizza, prosciutto di Parma 18 Month, Duck Pizza, Banoffee Pie

I was invited to a media dinner at Charlie’s Restaurant & Bar so the food served this evening was complimentary. However there were no expectations from Charlie’s Restaurant & Bar and the review represents my true and honest opinions.

Overall the evening was very pleasant and the food was good. However if I were to imagine myself as a regular diner I would probably think great atmosphere, good food, but over priced. It’s “Yaletown Pizza”. Better than Opus Bar pizza for sure. Nothing tasted bad, but when you’re paying for it you get more critical. There are things in the recipe or cooking method that could be improved. I would have liked to see smaller sized pizzas at a reasonable price…which they may consider. I just don’t want to share 1 14 inch pizza if I’m having dinner with one other person…and if we order more we’re looking at a steep bill with lots of leftovers.

They offer pastas and a couple mains but their focus is pizza. I liked the thin crust and made in house aspects but it was at times inconsistent and some were crispier than others. I'm not being too picky either - it was a significant difference. However the pizza crust has a slight garlic powder flavour which is great! Also there’s decent leopparding on the bottom of all the crusts – sign of pizza crust cooked properly.

Soggier crust on 1st pizza.

Crisp crust on last pizza!

I attended the evening with Victoria from Victoria’s Food Secrets. 9 courses later and we still had room for one more dessert…so we just reached for the unfinished dessert down the table. ;)

Oh and no – that is not Charlie and the owner’s name is not Charlie…Charlie is a fictional character the restaurant and food is inspired by.

The dessert portion of dinner at Charlie's Restaurant + Bar.

On the table:

House Marinated Olives 4/6

  • Citrus & fresh herbs $6
  • Olives are olives and there were a variety which I liked.
  • I like olives so I liked them. The marinade was good, but also standard.

Grappa Cured Salmon 3.5/6

  • Cream fraiche, cucumber, mint, salmon roe and lemon zest $15
  • Very fresh and big piece of salmon. Quite a simple dish that sounds more interesting. A sharing appy.
  • I liked the levels of saltiness from this – the salty bite of salmon roe, fresh sea salt on top of the salmon and then the fresh caper berry. The cream fraiche helped to balance and round out the flavours.
  • The cucumber, mint and lemon zest was more for décor and not enough to actually add to the dish.
  • Not sure how much this appy suits the restaurant, but it’s still good.

Prosciutto di Parma 18 Month 5.5/6

  • With pea mousse, snow pea tendrils, a poached egg, two crostini, and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Not on current menu, but will be added at end of month. Price TBC. I would hope $12-14.
  • Great combo of flavours and loved the plating. Prosciutto roses!
  • I loved the pea mousse. Its very light and fluffy. I recommended them to add Mascarpone to the mousse to give it creaminess and richness. Drool.
  • I could taste some tuffle oil on the prosciutto – great touch!
  • The poached egg could have been even softer and there were fresh green peas underneath it all. Loved the textures of it altogether.
  • It definitely needs a few more crostini for the portion.

Meatball Pizza 2/6

  • Spicy tomato sugo, pork meatballs, fontina, smoked speck and fresh oregano $23
  • It was good, but for $23 I wouldn’t order it. It’s a bit too basic for me anyways so I wouldn’t have ordered it on a regular basis.
  • The best part was the Fontina, except it made the pizza extra greasy which eventually made the thin crust a bit soggy.
  • It was homemade Italian Sausage meatballs. They were ok but a bit dry and not a highlight. The pizza also wasn’t spicy to me and there wasn’t much oregano. Maybe they should shred them up and spread them around.

Smoked Salmon Pizza 3/6

  • Salsa verde, house-smoked salmon, red onion, capers, arugula preserve, lemon and goat cheese $25
  • Lots of stuff going on here, but I did like it.
  • I liked the big pieces of salmon and there was a decent amount of creamy goat cheese crumbles…a little goes a long way.
  • It was salty, slightly peppery and the salsa verde got nicely baked in the oven so it gave off a nutty flavour and crispy texture. It was quite a herby salsa.
  • It was almost like an arugula salad tossed on top so it was quite fresh tasting – the heaviness comes from the goat’s cheese. Some could like this idea and others might find the salad messy and distracting. I liked it.

Roast Potatoes – Side 3.5/6

  • The potatoes were very flavourful, fluffy and buttery but the skins were not crispy enough.

  • If we stopped here I would have been slightly underwhelmed...until...

Short Rib Pizza 5.5/6

  • Tomato sugo, braised short ribs, caramelized onion, mozzarella, horseradish cream and green onions $25
  • This was my favourite of the night!
  • Lots of short rib, but it was a bit dry. I like how I can see it but this method dried out the meat during baking.
  • The beef could have been more marinated to compensate for the drying out. There’s definitely some dried herb they cooked it with so there's still some flavour.
  • I loved the fresh spicy horseradish cream! It’s spicy, but it tastes like they made it milder so it wouldn’t be overpowering. it also added some sauce/juice to the meat.

Duck Pizza 4/6

  • Porcini sauce, smoked duck, roast portabellini mushrooms, tallegio, radicchio and truffle oil $25
  • This had so much potential and it was very good but I was very bothered by the duck part…which is the main part. It had almost completely dried out during baking and it came off as roast beef. Since it was thin slices of duck it really came off as roast beef.
  • You can see how the duck meat is dry and wrinkly. So it was good, but disappointing in that one aspect.
  • I liked the mushroom flavour throughout though. Nice layers of mushroom flavour including the big slices of juicy Potabellini and truffle oil which I could taste.
  • It was a bit on the salty side and I would have liked more shredded cabbage for more of a crunch.


Keep in mind I’m not much of a drinker – watch this video to see why.

Champers Thyme 2/6

  • Apple, cucumber, thyme smashed with agave syrup, Henrick’s, Prosecco crown $11
  • A sparking cocktail to start the night. Couldn’t taste much apple, but cucumber and thyme stood out. Refreshing, but quite bitter (from Thyme) and tart.

Cocktail 1265 2.5/6

  • Blood orange, grapefruit, juniper berries, pine nuts, basil, grapefruit bitters, Vodka $10
  • I thought I would like this more than I did. Pretty strong drink. The pine nuts are pureed it so it has a very subtle nutty flavour. Bold, citrusy and slightly sweet, actually quite bitter.

Devil 4/6

  • Sliced fennel, cloves, cherry syrup, Cazadores Reposado tequila, cherry bitters and ginger beer $11
  • I don’t like Tequila, and this was the best drink. It’s surprisingly sweet because of the cherries and it just worked very well. It has a warm spice and slight licorice taste.

The dessert portion of dinner.

Charlie's Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. It was great to see you again Mijune! I think we have very similar tastes in food - I'm just more of a drinker than you. ;)

  2. wow it looks really nice in there. i love pizza and that one looks pretty tasty too!

  3. The setup and ambiance is fantastic! If you like pizza, esp. a fan of gourmet ones then you should give it a try. Nice place to go with a bigger group though.

  4. There is something that bothers me in a strange way about that pizza. For some reason, it looks... Mass produced? The holes at the bottom - which seems to indicate they were using a pan of sort, the "too neatly looking circumference", et al. And I am not sure if things like duck or short ribs seem to fit in the whole equation. I mean, salmon, sure, specially considering you add it comes out of the oven, otherwise...

    Having said that, I think you should *really* try Ah-Beetz.

  5. ahhh I know what you mean by the "mass produced" or "unatural leopparding"....I can agree with you there.

    BUT duck and short ribs DEFINITELY fits into gourmet pizza equations...it's been done before so I'm glad to see it come up again. As you see - they were the best ones. The more creative the better!